In today’s “The cover is better than the original”, we chose The Staves’ I’m on Fire. The original song is by Bruce Springsteen. Why it’s better: Springsteen came up with this song in the early 80s when he was playing around with a Johnny-Cash-like rhythm in the studio. The song is part of Springsteen’s near perfect album “Born In the USA.” It’s difficult to top a Springsteen classic, but The Staves’ version of the song makes it more intimate. The melody is stripped down to guitar chords and vocal harmonies. The English trio of sisters creates a different ambiance with their folky voices. There have been other worthy covers, like AWOLNATION’s version for the “Fifty Shades of Grey” soundtrack or John Mayer’s take, which was a bonus track for his “Battle Studies” album. The Staves change the song inadvertently by infusing it with heartfelt vocals which other versions lack. Listen for yourselves and decide which one is better.
In today’s “The cover is better that the original”, we chose Portishead’s SOS. The original song is by ABBA. Why it’s better: We all know that the Swedish group is an iconic pop phenomenon with a lot of catchy and emotional pop songs. ABBA has a definite style that you can recognize in any of their songs, the soft vocals and 70s vibe. Portishead’s cover strips down the lyrics and applies their own signature of “alternative rock.” The video for the song came out as a response to Labor Party Member of Parliament Jo Cox’s assassination. She was a young politician that advocated for immigrants in the U.K. among other issues. The political message, Beth Gibbons’ vocals, the band’s arrangement and the powerfully simple video transform a catchy tune into a haunting and beautiful plea for unity. The video ends with this poignant quote from one of Jo Cox’s speeches.
In today’s “The cover is better that the original”, we chose Johnny Cash’s Hurt. The original song is by Nine Inch Nails. Why it’s better: Nine Inch Nails original song is quite impressive with Trent Reznor’s classic distortions and his voice rising in the right moments. The original has an aggressive edge that the cover lacks. But Cash’s interpretation of the song and the video that goes along with it are incredibly poignant due to the fact that you are watching pieces of this man’s life and his inevitable decay. The appearance of his wife, June Carter Cash, watching over him is equally moving. The lyrics accompanied an incomparable life that is no more. Although Reznor’s original is entirely different his lyrics are to be admired because they could fit the despair of very different men.
In today’s “The cover is better that the original”, we chose Russian Red’s All My Little Words. The original song is by The Magnetic Fields. Why it’s better: Although both interpretations are similar, Russian Red’s is better because her version is stripped down and more emotional. The original song is nice and slow but for this song Lourdes Hernández’s (Russian Red) voice is better suited than Stephin Merritt’s. Below you can also listen to this cover by Russian Red in Spanish. If you want to know more about Russian Red, please click here.
In today’s “The cover is better that the original”, we chose Postmodern Jukebox’s Creep feat. Haley Reinhart. The original song is by Radiohead. Why it’s almost better: The original song is a 90s classic but let’s face it, it has been covered incessantly by anyone who can hold a guitar. It’s refreshing to listen to a version of this song done à la big band and with a female vocalist. Radiohead’s original interpretation is a perfect blend between ballade and rock. But Haley Reinhart’s voice adds a mixture of seduction and craving reminiscent of the great Etta James that the angsty original lacks. Creep cannot be surpassed but Postmodern Jukebox’s cover is a great contender.
In today’s “The cover is better that the original”, we chose Eagle Eye Cherry’s To Love Somebody. The original song is by the Bee Gees Why it’s better: The Bee Gees wrote great songs but there are covers of their songs that are way better than their originals. Eagle Eye Cherry’s cover of To Love Somebody is a great example. It’s different from the original song because it has an upbeat tempo, more 90s. Eagle Eye Cherry’s version is kind of bittersweet. I listened to it for the first time in a Mexican movie called “Y Tu Mamá También”, it certainly added another level to the song and now it connects with my youth self in more ways than one.
In today’s “The cover is better that the original”, we chose Hozier’s Do I Wanna Know. The original song is by Arctic Monkeys. Why it’s better: Even if the original song by Arctic Monkeys is an outstanding tune. Hozier’s rendition is his own. It sounds like a completely new song. It might not be better but it’s quite different and unexpected. Thanks in part to his natural voice, his interpretation is unique and melancholic. But his backup singers and the entire band did an amazing job blending their instruments perfectly.
In today’s “The cover is better that the original”, we chose King of Leon’s Dancing on my own. The original song is by Robyn. Why it’s better: Robyn’s original song is quite good but is a song that you dance to, that scene in “Girls” with Hannah and Marnie comes to mind. Kings of Leon plays an almost acoustic version and like with all acoustic versions of a song you pay more attention to the lyrics.This interpretation is even melancholic and sad. Caleb’s voice is more heartfelt here than when he sings for the millionth time “Use Somebody”.
In today’s “The cover is better that the original”, we chose Karen O and Trent Reznor’s Immigrant Song with Atticus Ross. It was made for David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Before everyone starts writing outrageous comments, this choice is an honorable mention because it’s obviously not better than Led Zeppelin’s out-of-this-earth rendition. Why it’s almost better: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman is a rock star on her own right. It’s always a great feat to cover a Led Zeppelin song right, plus a female voice is always welcome. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are a great musical team, you can tell by their scores and this reinterpretation of a rock classic. Using that distorted and industrial sound Nine Inch Nails is famous for, but a little toned down. And how amazing is this opening sequence?
“The cover is better than the original” is our new music section in untitledmx, where each Friday we will share an awesome cover worthy of being called “better than the original song”. This is our first section in English. For our first cover, we chose Jack White’s Love is Blindness. The song was featured on Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby Soundtrack. The original song is from U2’s Achtung Baby (1991). Why it’s better: White’s voice is so powerful that you can feel the pain each time he shouts “love is blindness”. This rendition is completely emotional while U2’s is a little flat. Jack White’s Love is Blindness is how this song should be sung, exploding just at the right time.